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Wed Nov 27, 2013, 10:00 AM

Sodium-packed medications raise stroke and death risks

Apparently, not all pills got the memo about, first, doing no harm. Many formulations of common medications contain high levels of sodium, and a new study finds that people who take those medications are 22% more likely to suffer a non-fatal stroke and 28% more likely to die of any cause than people who take the same medications in formulations that do not contain sodium.

Among the patients in the study who took medications containing sodium, the median daily sodium dose from those medicines alone was 106.8 millimoles a day -- higher than recommended daily maximum dietary intake of 104 millimoles a day.

The newest study on sodium in medicines was published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Medicines that come in powdered, effervescent or soluble formulations tend to be particularly high in sodium, and researchers in London and Dundee, Scotland, collected a list of 24 drugs that were available in such formulations. Among them were effervescent or soluble versions of the pain relievers acetaminophen and aspirin, metoclopramide, taken to soothe stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal reflux, and calcium and zinc supplements.


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